Frank Ogawa Plaza, a.k.a. Oscar Grant Plaza, is once again filled with people.
And this time we brought vuvuzelas!
To be fair, I shouldn't use the plural. This was the only visible (and audible) vuvuzela.
The theme last Wednesday included good looking and well behaved dogs.
This theme continues.
On Wednesday night, I noticed no smell of urine or weed.
This afternoon... no smell of urine.
If you get my drift.
At the steps in front of City Hall, speaker after speaker got up and gave call and response, talking about what they did to organize today in different parts of the city. This guy went to Fruitvale near International Boulevard.
What are they organizing, you might ask? A general strike in Oakland for this Wednesday. I have three jobs right now, but I can't say how many I'll have at the beginning of the year. My work situation is very tenuous and the future it doesn't look like it will get better any time soon.
All my work on Wednesday is in Oakland.
I will be on strike and I will be able to tell my students why this Monday.
This is a town where police tear gas peaceful protesters and IT DOESN'T WORK.
This is a town where a cop shoots an unarmed man in custody in the back, the video goes up on YouTube, some idiot L.A. jury gives the cop the least conviction possible and some even stupider L.A. judge gives the bastard the minimum sentence.
If you are down in the plaza on Wednesday, who knows? Maybe I'll see you there.
You're not new here, are you? You know how I feel about numbers.
Okay, just so we are clear.
The other blog is still more popular than this one, but it has been fading recently. I check in on it today just out of idle curiousity and what do I see?
The blog traffic today done BLOWED UP!!!!!!
(Click on picture for larger and done blowed uppy-er.)
My sitemeter data only keeps track of the last hundred entries, so I can't tell exactly what accounts for eight times more traffic today than yesterday, but the big excitement right now is this picture of Kate Middleton in a white bikini.
(Click for larger and just about equal hotness. She looks foine, as the young people say.)
A picture that is several years old and can be found in lots of places around the Internet.
But for some reason, people have decided MY nicked copy is the only one of earth and they are flocking to the site like it's a shrine to hot babe-ness.
The neighborhood of 12th Street and Broadway is an easy bike ride from my apartment, one BART station north of my home station of Lake Merritt. Tonight, there were blocks of satellite trucks from the local stations, both those that broadcast in English and in Spanish.
The news is interested because yesterday in the wee small hours, the Oakland cops came in with tear gas to close down the campsite of Occupy Oakland, the area behind this fence, behind this handsome and well-behaved dog. As you can see, much of the grass turned brown. That will happen when you cover it for many days. I was there on Monday, the afternoon before the early morning crackdown. The place was clean and peaceful. There was no wafting scent of urine or herb. I hella (Heart) Oakland, but I will admit you can find those smells more often than you might like in many neighborhoods.
Not at the campsite on Monday. People were organizing to protect themselves. They were sharing food. They were playing chess. A peaceful assembly, not unlike that given to us as a right in our Constitution.
There were lots of signs. A woman was just finishing painting this one.
This father and son were nice enough to show both of these for my camera.
Yet another handsome and well-behaved dog, one of the definite themes I saw this evening.
And signs. Signs were a definite theme.
And a third theme. People ready for the fucking Oakland cops to show up again with tear gas.
I'm in this neighborhood at least once a week to pick up the headlines for the silly tabloid blog. I promise to bring my camera to keep track of the goings on.
So Qadhafi is dead. At the end of the Reagan administration, a PanAm plane blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland and Libyan intelligence was linked to the act. A lot of people treated him like a buffoon or clown, but as I recall, many people saw Mussolini that way during his lifetime, but no one was confused about him being on the side of the bad guys.
But the Republicans today are the gang who can't shoot straight, and one of the least straight shooters is old Straight Talk Express himself, John McCain, aka Grumpy Grandpa Walnuts, who was sucking up to Mickey Rourke's slightly uglier twin barely more than two years ago. What could have possessed him?
And who showed him how to use Twitter?
I don't see how patriots can support these clowns.
I've been renting movies I've seen before to see how I feel about them now. Boycott, the 2001 HBO film about the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott, is still near the top of my list for favorite films this century. The film stays close to the truth of the matter and is filled with excellent performances, starting at the top of the cast with my original adopted actor Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Terrence Howard as his close friend, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
There are many people involved in the production of Boycott who would return to HBO to appear in the fantastic series The Wire. Most notable of these people is Clark Johnson, the director of Boycott and best known in front of the camera as Gus Haynes of the Baltimore Sun. He also has a cameo role here.
Boycott makes clear how important women were to the success of the protest, and best known of these women is Rosa Parks, wonderfully underplayed by Iris Little-Thomas.
The role of Coretta King is played by British actress Carmen Egojo, who like most Brits playing Yank nowadays shows absolutely no trace of an accent. She and Wright have a lovely scene at the beginning of the movie when he is trying to write a sermon and she puts on a record of Nat King Cole singing Walking My Baby Back Home, and the young couple dance very tenderly together.
In real life, Wright and Egojo are married and have a child.
CCH Pounder may be better known than the actresses previously mentioned, but she plays the less known but pivotal character Jo Ann Robinson. The bus boycott started on the day of Rosa Parks' trial and Jo Ann Robinson was the major impetus for this start, before there was any organization called the Montgomery Improvement Association or Dr. King had been drafted to be its leader.
Reg E. Cathey, another actor who would also be in The Wire, plays the role of E.D. Nixon, who was both a labor organizer and a member of the N.A.A.C.P. before getting involved with the boycott.
Brent Jennings, who is so good as Ron Washington ("Wash") in the current movie Moneyball, plays Rufus Lewis. It is remarkable to me with as much star power as this film has at how my eye would always see Jennings in a scene and wonder what he would do next.
But for scene stealing, Boycott's great late addition to the cast is Erik Todd Dellums as the "outside agitator" Bayard Rustin. He comes to Montgomery and is treated by all assembled as something of a pop star, but his main interest is to make sure the boycott remains a non-violent movement. He does not stay long; by this time, Rustin was already an ex-Communist and had been arrested on a morals charge because of his homosexuality, so his association can only be brief and informal. Still, he has a wonderful scene with Coretta, who remembers well a speech Rustin gave at Antioch College. Dellums plays the scene with a very understandable and cosmopolitan flirtatiousness, excited and flattered regardless of his orientation that a lovely young woman pays him a well-deserved compliment.
Dellums also goes on to be in the cast of The Wire as the coroner.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am not an impartial arbiter of a movie like Boycott. Some of my favorite movies are "based on a true story" films. From HBO, I liked Boycott, Conspiracy and Band of Brothers. On the big screen, there's David Fincher's Zodiac and The Social Network and Clint Eastwood's Changeling and of course, Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy. I even have a soft spot for a good "based on a true story" sports movie like Moneyball or Secretariat.
In conclusion, if you haven't seen Boycott, put in on your rental list. If you have seen it, you might enjoy watching it again. I know I did.
I've been invited to a little cocktail party. It sounds like fun.
Dr. Harold Camping, on the other hand, still thinks it will be the destruction of the universe.
Except, guess what? NO ONE IS LISTENING, DOC!
I have my silly tabloid blog. The supermarket rags did not include any of his predictions. I cheated and put in his earlier failed prediction because I read it in the equally unreliable San Francisco Chronicle. Allegedly serious news organizations paid attention to the May 21 date because he sent out all those silly buses. Even though he came up craps on that nonsense, he thinks the shooting match is over next Friday.
It would be a harsh irony if he died that day. I don't wish this on the worst human being on earth, and that isn't him, but on the other hand, I think even Dr. Camping is starting to realize he has no useful purpose and his stupidity and vanity have only caused others grief.
The world will eventually end. Long before that, everyone who will read these words will die.
I'm going out on a very sturdy and low hanging limb when I say, the world is NOT ending next Friday and anyone still listening to Dr. Camping needs to take a long prayerful fast to ask themselves why.
There's a scene in Moneyball where Brad Pitt as Billy Beane goes to the dugout and says to the then struggling A's, "This is a winning team. Now go out tonight and play like it."
I wish I could assemble the Mutant Mercenaries and tell them the same thing, but so far, no dice.
I won the award for the best draft. I have since made some pick-ups on waivers and trades that I think make my team better. Still, after five games we are 1-4 when we could be 3-2 or even with some luck 4-1. Instead, the luck has been almost all bad and we now have to struggle to get into the playoffs when I had hopes we might be trying to get enough wins to get a bye week.
And then there are the local teams, who have both been bitter disappointments for about ten years now. The Raiders and the 49ers both won their first games of the season, beat the uninspiring Broncos and Seahawks respectively. Then came week two, when the Raiders lost late to the Bills and the Niners lost late to the Cowboys, both those opponents seeming less than prepossessing at the time.
Since then, the Raiders have gone to 3-2, beating the Texans this week in an ugly game but nevertheless a win barely 24 hours after Al Davis' death. The 49ers have won three straight, including impressive drubbings of both the struggling Broncos and the allegedly solid Buccaneers in the past two weeks.
The Raiders are in a tougher division and they may have to hope for a wild card spot unless the Chargers go into a nose dive. This week's game hosting the Browns will go a long way in answering the question about whether they are contenders or pretenders.
The Niners on the other hand are in a Group of Cake rather than a Group of Death, and even if they lose on the road to the newly resurgent Lions this week, if they can go 10-6 in their division, they are pretty much a lock to get int the playoffs with a home game, especially since they still have five games left against the Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals, all of whom are somewhere between sad and laughable.
I really do think the Niners could be a playoff team this year. With a little luck, I think the Mutant Mercenaries and the Raiders might join them.
It's nice to have some hope in early October. I'll check back in early December to see if it all was just a mirage.
The Value Voters Summit is this weekend. All the Republican presidential candidates are there, sucking up to the shallow end of the Christian gene pool, who are doomed by evolutionary forces to see their power dry up as the years roll by.
Sarah Palin didn't show up. I think she correctly sensed that the crowd would not be too keen on her right now.
Gil Mertz, who may be the nephew of Fred and Ethel (don't take me for a sap, Fred and Ethel never had sex, that was a beard relationship if ever there was one) told his audience on the first day "Don't be the weird one!", hoping that embarrassing stories would not come out of the conference.
Here's a hint, Gil. You ARE the weird ones. Some Christians delight so much in "not being of this world, but the next", they really don't pay strong attention to this world and what they say comes off as being, well, weird.
Christianity allegedly has huge numbers in this country, but I don't know how many people are truly, deeply committed and when we consider the sub-section that are truly, deeply committed, I don't know how unified a front they can present. In evolutionary terms, genetic advantages this large and even larger have been wiped from the face of the world before, and who knows but it could happen again, especially if this weekend's debacle counts in their fevered brains as "not being the weird ones."
People love the Rule of Three. If two people the public have heard of die within a few days, someone will invoke the Rule of Three, the idea that important people die in trios.
That said, wandering around the Internet I saw three obits on Saturday, Oct. 8, of people whose claims to fame were well known to me.
The first is Raiders' owner Al Davis, who died today. Davis has looked like a walking corpse for most of this century. He was a great leader in his day, but that day is long gone. I called him Kim Jong Al because he was the dictator of a failed organization. Now that he's dead, there is once again a glimmer of hope for the long term prospects of the Raiders.
The second is Roger Williams, a pianist who had hits with Born Free and Autumn Leaves way back in the day. When I learned to play by ear, Born Free is the first song where I figured out the melody and chord progression on my own. Wikipedia says he died today, one week after his 87th birthday.
And the third is Australian actress Diane Cilento, who died on the 6th but her New York Times obit was only published today. Her two main claims to fame outside her native land are the Oscar she won for Tom Jones, seen here with her co-star, the always wonderful Albert Finney, and she was married for a time to Sean Connery.
These people have nothing to do with one another, but their deaths were reported in the same news cycle.
There is no Rule of Three. It's all random.
Please go on with your lives, happy in the new knowledge you gained today.
My favorite two musical films produced in my lifetime are O Brother Where Are Thou and Topsy Turvy. The films could hardly be more different. O Brother was the bigger box office hit, Topsy Turvy got more critical acclaim. The musical styles are in direct contrast, with O Brother celebrating the roots music both black and white of the American South, while Topsy Turvy is Gilbert and Sullivan, about as far away from roots music as you can get. Another important difference in the two movies is that every actor in Topsy Turvy who sang or played an instrument is actually performing. In O Brother, George Clooney wanted to sing his part, but he is lip-synching.
Topsy Turvy has a wonderful cast. I have not put it up to a vote, but I will venture an opinion I expect is wide held that Jim Broadbent, Shirley Henderson and Timothy Spall are always good. Allan Corduner is not quite as well known to American audiences, but he is top notch as Sir Arthur Sullivan. Martin Savage is another actor better known to British audiences than to American, and he does a wonderful job as George Grossmith, the comic actor who played Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner in the original production of The Mikado back in 1885.
But let me turn my attention to Kevin McKidd for a moment. His first big break was in Trainspotting, the 1996 film about Scottish heroin addicts. But as is true with many a fine British actor, he can completely transform himself from role to role, and is nearly unrecognizable as the romantic tenor Durward Lely, who played Nanki-Poo. Watch this scene with him being prissy about his costume, then see some of his actual performance singing A Wand'ring Minstrel I.
Does that character remind you at all of the stern, upright and efficient Lucius Vorenus from Rome? Me, neither! I didn't realize it was the same actor until I saw Topsy Turvy again after Rome first aired. I have the utmost respect for McKidd and wish him every success in his career going forward, though my good wishes for him are intermingled with a nearly uncontrollable jealous streak, since in his professional duties he got to snuggle and snog with Indira Varma.
In my obsessed Internet stalker brain, I believe that is my job.
The economy is really in the pits right now, but you couldn't tell from my current situation. I'm not living the life of Riley, but right now I have enough work and with a little luck, I will continue to have a non-negative cash flow for a while. Because I don't have a long-term iron clad contract anywhere, that could change. At least until the end of the year and likely for a while longer, I am living the life I can afford, if not the one I wish to grow accustomed to.
This wasn't always the case since I started teaching. Back in early 2008, I didn't have health insurance and a false alarm became a very expensive nightmare. Right now, I definitely budget in health insurance and Kaiser, a system I am used to, is well within my price range. (Note that cable TV, a car and a cell phone are NOT currently within my price range. As I said, not the lifestyle I wish to grow accustomed to.)
About a month ago, a little irritation on my left heel started acting up, and I went to the Kaiser emergency room. They put a bandage on it, gave me some antibiotic cream and told me to take a wait and see attitude.
I waited a month. It didn't get better.
Last Tuesday, I saw my G.P. He said he didn't like the look of it and sent me to surgery. I had the wound removed and they gave me a bandage that was to be left on for five days, a boot/sandal to wear while it was bandaged, antibiotics, both oral and topical, and some pain stuff just in case it hurt a lot after the local wore off, which I used a little the first couple days. And, oh yeah, there was an x-ray before the surgery.
The co-pay for everything last Tuesday was about $50.
As of now, the bandage is off, the wound is healing normally and it doesn't hurt to walk.
Granted, Kaiser isn't perfect. I got three different diagnoses (ulcerated wound probably caused by diabetes, infected wound, skin cancer), but they did a biopsy and the best news of the three - infected wound improperly healing - appears to be correct. Also, the G.P. sent me to surgery, but the surgeons saw the trouble was below the ankle, so they sent me to x-ray, then podiatry. The runaround means something that should have taken three hours took more like six.
I can live with that. In more ways than one.
And of course, even though I'm a God forsaken liberal, I do economize so that I can afford health insurance, so the crowds at GOP debates don't have to cheer for my death.
On the other hand, I have reasonably priced health insurance because my union fought for it, yet another reason I will NEVER belong to the Tea Party or the Tequila Party or any of those silly political movements named for beverages I rarely drink in any case.
Here's hoping you are covered when things go wrong. With the human body, it's as close to a 100% likelihood as you can get. Moreover, seeing a doctor regularly means you might be able to detect something before it turns into an expensive trip to the emergency room.